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Rice opens 'Cure for Needy' on the Web
Date:10/20/2009

Suppose you had a disease for which there's a proven cure, but nobody makes the drug. Where do you turn?

That's a question many around the world face every day and one Rice University students hope to answer by reaching out through the Internet.

The Cure for Needy Project (http://www.cureforneedy.org) will draw upon the expertise of chemists worldwide to optimize small-molecule medications for orphaned diseases those for which drugs may be extremely expensive or unavailable because they're simply not profitable enough for pharmaceutical companies to produce.

Cure for Needy, born this year in a class taught by renowned Rice chemist James Tour, will draw on the power of the Internet to drive down the cost of such medications. He compared the concept to the way programmers use the Net to create such open-source software as Linux.

Tour said there are many ways to synthesize a given drug, and the paths that exist aren't necessarily the most efficient ones. Cure for Needy will list the paths to the synthesis of dozens of "orphan drugs," known medications that have already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or European Commission.

He's confident chemists will enjoy the opportunity to puzzle out more- efficient, cheaper or greener ways to make the listed drugs and feel good about the impact they will have on global health. "We realize, for example, there are many retired chemists or graduate students out there who would love to contribute their talents," said Tour, Rice's Chao Professor of Chemistry as well as a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and of computer science.

Large or small pharmaceutical firms around the world can then use the streamlined formulas all of which will be in the public domain to manufacture and distribute affordable medications for the recognition the project would bring.

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Contact: David Ruth
druth@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

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